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Resale Price Maintenance (Questionnaires)

Volume 640: debated on Tuesday 9 May 1961

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5.

asked the President of the Board of Trade which organisations have been asked by him to distribute questionnaires on resale price maintenance to their members; and if he is satisfied that the selected bodies will provide a truly representative sample of opinions.

I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list of those organistions whose help the Board of Trade enlisted for the purpose of circulating the official questionnaires to retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers. Care was taken to impress upon all concerned the importance of ensuring that all types of interest were included. The answers returned are being scutinised with the same end also in view. I am glad to take this opportunity of thanking all those who have helped us by sending out questionnaires and by answering them.

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the National Union of Towns-women's Guilds in included in the list of organisations?

The National Union of Townswomen's Guilds is not in the list. That organisation sent out a questionnaire, but we felt it necessary to point out that there was some danger that it might be thought to be an official questionnaire, and the union very readily corrected it. We are grateful to the N.U.T.G. for the interest it has shown.

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that this kind of ad hoc inquiry would perhaps give misleading results? Would he consider following up the commendable initiative of the N.U.T.G. by arranging for a wider and more scientific inquiry, so that we can find out what the views of housewives really are about fixed prices?

That has been considered, but there are great difficulties in drafting questions which would get answers which would not be biased in some way or other.

Following is the statement:

Primary distribution of the Board's questionnaires to retailers was undertaken by the National Chamber of Trade, the Parliamentary Committee of the Cooperative Union, the Retail Distributors' Association and the Multiple Shops Federation. These organisations distributed the Board's questionnaires either directly or through other representative member organisations throughout the country. Distribution of questionnaires to wholesalers was effected by the Association of British Chambers of Commerce through its affiliated chambers. The Board of Trade, in consultation with the Federation of British Industries and the National Union of Manufacturers, selected manufacturers to whom questionnaires were dispatched. A number of questionnaires were also sent to individuals and firms who asked for them.